Defining the word secular

Why was it missing in the very beginning

Mufti Mubashir
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 22 2017 11:17PM | Updated Date: Nov 22 2017 11:17PM
Defining the word secularRepresentational Pic

The makers of our constitution did not conceive India as a SECULAR country as the preamble of our constitution described India as a Democratic Sovereign Republic. It was only after three decades that too during Emergency that by virtue of forty second Amendment Act, 1976 that the words namely “SECULAR” and “Socialist” were added to the preamble of our constitution.

What prompted the constitutional experts to add the words SECULAR to our constitution? The answer to  this question has not been sought so far. The clamp down of Emergency from 25th June, 1975 to 21st March 1977 by Indira Gandhi and Indian National ongress was responsible for these curbs.

Almost all parts of the Constitution, including the Preamble and amending clause, were changed by the 42nd Amendment, and some new articles and sections were inserted. It was Mr. K.T.Shah who proposed an amendment seeking India to be declared as SECULAR FEDERAL SOCIALIST Nation. The constitutional Assembly Debates  while deliberating on  amendments to be brought about reveal that noted Jurist Hormasji Maneckji Seervai criticised the amendment.

B.R.Ambedkar the head of drafting committee of our constitution opposed the amendment in the preamble of our constitution. "My objections, stated briefly are two. In the first place the Constitution, ... , is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism where by particular members or particular parties are installed in office. What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live.the  majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves. This is one reason why the amendment should be opposed.

The second objection was that the amendment was "purely superfluous" and "unnecessary", as "socialist principles are already embodied in our Constitution" through Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy.

The constitutional validity of section 4 and 55 of 42nd Amendment Act were challenged and Honble Chief Justice Chanderchud made the following observation, “ Since the Constitution had conferred a limited amending power on the Parliament, the Parliament cannot under the exercise of that limited power enlarge that very power into an absolute power. Indeed, a limited amending power is one of the basic features of our Constitution….cannot be abrogated.

I am dissuaded so far not to make any observation on the political climate of our country. However nation wants to know as to why the framers of constitution have not included the word  SECULAR in the preamble at the time of drafting of our constitution. 

What is Secularism? To me it implies when the state is above religion and does not have any religious inclination. People of different religions live together in harmony. Article 14 of our constitution is the basic feature of our constitution which lays down Equality before Law and Equal protection of All laws to all the people equally. There will be no discrimination between citizens on the basis of their religion or form of worship every body will be equally treated before law.

Communalism is antithesis of secularism. Forces inimical to accommodating  minority community as  fellow citizens and live in harmony appears to be fraught with dangerous consequences. The Indian view of Secularism is  therefore incapable of  providing un ambiguous  guidelines for the country. What has been reflected has to be examined and let us give the word  “SECULAR” Its due!


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